Google is updating its search engine services in mainland China to warn users when they are inputting keywords likely to result in interference by censors and suggest they use other possible search terms.
In a blogpost published Thursday, Google’s senior vice president of knowledge Alan Eustace said the move was down to technical issues that often render the site temporarily unusable and which are “correlated with searches for a particular subset of queries.”
“Over the past couple years, we’ve had a lot of feedback that Google search from mainland China can be inconsistent and unreliable. It depends on the search query and browser, but users are regularly getting error messages like ‘this webpage is not available’ or ‘the connection was reset’. And when that happens, people typically cannot use Google again for a minute or more,” Eustace said.
From now on popup messages will alert Google users in China when they enter search terms that may result in “connection issues” and suggest they input other keywords, the Agence France Presse reports.
According to The Guardian, Chinese authorities have long censored the Internet and monitored its use in order to clamp down on dissent, a strategy which has become known as the Great Firewall of China.
Thursday’s move is likely to inflame already simmering tensions between the California-based Internet giant and Beijing.
Last year Google accused China of organizing a massive cyber-attack in a bid to access “the personal Gmail accounts of hundreds of users including, among others, senior US government officials, Chinese political activists, officials in several Asian countries (predominantly South Korea), military personnel and journalists,” according to Al Jazeera, charges China angrily denied.